Temp agency breaks law to hound workers for fees they don’t owe


HE HAD THE LAW ON HIS SIDE but it didn’t help. The FDM Group still says a temp worker in Mississauga, Ontario owes them $30,000 because he quit a job they had placed him in. The OLRB (Ontario Labour Relations Board) has ruled he doesn’t. But the board refuses to do anything to enforce their own ruling directing FDM to stop billing him and others.

The worker did not pay the fee stipulated by FDM. He filed an employment standards complaint against the temp agency instead.

The worker (call him Brian) said he signed up with the multinational temp agency FDM Group last year to find him a job. He completed an FDM job training program. This May, FDM placed him in a two-year temporary contract at a major Canadian bank.

Not long after, Brian resigned, providing one month’s notice.

Billed $30,000

FDM then told him he owed them $30,000—almost as much as he would make in a year—as “damages” for breaking his “contractual” commitments.

Many other FDM clients had already complained to the OLRB about the practice. So many that the OLRB had ruled in March of this year that the fee was “prohibited” and ordered the company to remove the provision from its contracts with workers, many of whom were young graduates or new Canadians.

The ruling had no effect on FDM. The contact signed by Brian in May should not have contained that provision—but it did.

The ministry is still investigation Brian’s claim. But, it says it does not have the “authority” to enforce the labour board’s order requiring FDM to change its employment contracts.

Parkdale Community Legal Services lawyer John No wrote a series of letters to the labour ministry this summer, to tell them the clinic had been contacted by a “number of recent or current FDM employees” with complaints about their contract—even after the labour board ruling.

“FDM is making a mockery of the OLRB and the Ministry of Labour by refusing to remove the fee provisions in the employment agreements,” No’s letter says.

No authority

The ministry’s director of employment standards, Melissa Faber, replied and expressed concern about “any allegation that an employer is not complying” with a labour board order. But Faber also writes she is “not granted with the authority” to enforce those orders.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour said that to enforce a “non-monetary” order from the labour board, the director of employment standards would need to “conduct a new investigation of the alleged contravention, and reach its own findings.”

As of March 2021, when the labour board issued its order, there have been no proactive inspections of FDM Group, the ministry said.

“They’re really taking a very reactive, individualistic approach,” said No, who represented former FDM employees at the labour board proceedings.

“It’s frustrating because the Ministry of Labour was involved in the (OLRB) appeal, and actually agreed with us that this provision was illegal. But they completely refused to take a proactive approach refusing to look at it as a systemic issue.”

Temp agencies in Ontario are not allowed to charge workers for their services. They also can’t charge fees for providing resumé help or interview preparation.

FDM asked the OLRB to make allowances for them as it’s business model is “unique.”

But the labour board found that regardless of its business model, FDM’s contract.

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